I was talking last nite with a veteran friend, someone familiar with war…and I offered my thoughts on what “owning our participation” really entails. On its most elemental level; when you shoot and kill a man…or a woman for that matter. Or a child…Not a lot of ambiguity about that.
But battles and engagements involve levels above the grunts of wars. We do have a LOT of support. Don’t they generate their own culpability? I did a lot of things on my first nite in combat…some I will honor for all time.
I’d joined our five man team as X.O. just after sunset. Hours later, I was directing a drop of napalm about 300 meters off our western flank. That was from F4 Phantoms…followed by a pass with Vulcan cannons. Spooky was in orbit above, putting out flares. Later I brought in Cobra gunships.
But I’ve always regarded that first action as: me directing fire on an enemy force that is attacking us. And so it was. But last nite, for the very first time, I considered regarding it as me, burning men to death.
Well. You could consider DOW…not that they’d give a fuck. And the guys that packed and loaded the napalm canister. And the pilot of that F4. And me, who told them exactly where to drop it.
All. Or none. Or whomever regards owning a personal decision.
Even better later was sharing a retelling of the first time each of us were really scared. But that’s another tale. 😉